LEADING OFF: Cubs stage “Anchorman” trip, Pujols nears 600
A look at what’s happening all around the majors Thursday:
STAY CLASSY, CHICAGO
With his Chicago Cubs hovering just over .500, manager Joe Maddon is borrowing inspiration from the Channel 4 news team: new suits! The Cubs will sport ”Anchorman” themed outfits when they leave Chicago for Los Angeles to begin a road trip that will also take them through San Diego, site of Will Ferrell’s comedy about a local news station. There will be plenty of Ron Burgundys and Brian Fantanas on the flight, to be sure, but Maddon had one request: to dress infielder Tommy La Stella as weatherman Brick Tamland. ”They’re like two interchangeable guys,” Maddon said. ”I see Brick, I see Tommy. I see Tommy, I see Brick. Put some glasses on Tommy, dress him up, some sideburns … I got Brick.”
Albert Pujols is within striking distance of 600 home runs. He slugged the 597th of his career Wednesday, and he’ll resume his quest to become the ninth member of the 600-homer club when the Angels complete a series at Tampa Bay. Los Angeles then travels for three games at Miami before returning to Anaheim for a seven-game homestand.
SHAKING UP THE STANDINGS
Two of the NL’s biggest surprises open a four-game series when the Brewers host the Diamondbacks. Milwaukee leads the NL Central buoyed by one of the majors’ top offenses, though it will be looking to snap a three-game skid behind right-hander Zach Davies (5-2, 5.44 ERA). Arizona, meanwhile, has won eight of nine games and is 10 games over .500 (29-19) for the first time since 2011. Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray (3-3, 3.91) pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning against San Diego last time out.
Jacob deGrom (3-1, 3.56) fought through a ripped callus on his pitching hand to finish a strong start last time out, and now he’ll hope to avoid any lingering issues in an outing against San Diego. The New York Mets well-coifed righty has piled up 76 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings this season, easily the best rate of his career. The rebuilding Padres will call up right-hander Dinelson Lamet to start their series finale in place of injured Jered Weaver (left hip inflammation). It will be the major league debut for Lamet, who is 3-2 with a 3.23 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A El Paso. ”Looking forward to watching Lamet go show his big league stuff,” manager Andy Green said. ”I know we’re excited about that.”
BIG 44 FOR BARTOLO
Bartolo Colon celebrated his 44th birthday Wednesday, but another big number is of greater concern heading into his start against Pittsburgh: his ERA. Colon has a 6.38 mark, easily the highest of his career. Only two of his nine outings this season have been quality starts, a sharp drop off from his solid 2016 season with the New York Mets. Even so, Braves manager Brian Snitker says Colon ”has helped his younger teammates a lot with how he goes about things.”
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